Beth Joslin, aged 21 years old has been an outstanding volunteer on the Portsmouth Spirit of Rugby (SOR) project since October 2015. On the evening of Tuesday 6th June, Beth won ‘Young Volunteer of the Year 2017’ and was recognised for her volunteering efforts at the Portsmouth ‘Inspiring Volunteer’ Awards that took place at Fratton Park. The awards ceremony organised by Portsmouth Together is where individuals and groups are recognised for bringing light to their local communities.
Beth is a second year student at the University of Portsmouth studying Sport & Exercise Science and a former female rugby player herself. She has been instrumental in being a great role model for the younger females on the volunteer group and the weekly sessions.
The Spirit of Rugby project in Portsmouth is based on developing volunteers aged 16-24 years and promoting grassroots rugby in the community for young people aged 9-24 years old living in some of the most deprived wards in the city. Since the project began in June 2015, the volunteers have engaged and delivered a weekly grassroots rugby session in the community at Bransbury Park and engaged with just under 1000 young people in the last 2 years.
What made you get involved in volunteering with PITC?
I wanted to engage myself within the community and had heard such positive things about PITC and what PITC had accomplished over the years. I wanted to become part of the team at PITC and volunteer alongside their multiple sessions so then I could gain further knowledge from the young people in Portsmouth and to see how it benefits them.
As head volunteer, Beth had core responsibility for organising the group of 5 volunteers aged 16-24 years old on a weekly basis and planning and leading the rugby session that takes place every Wednesday between 5-6pm at Bransbury Park. Beth oversees the volunteers delivering skills and games to a range of young people aged 9-24 years old and motivates them each week to keep them engaged in the project and give something back to their community.
What is the best experience so far you have had volunteering?
One of best experiences I have encountered so far, was when there was an event on and so many young people and young people with various disabilities attended and helped one another out, it also showed me how far these people have come since I first volunteered on a session. It was rewarding watching them have fun and socialising with people from multiple diverse backgrounds which not only helps with their social skills but also teaches them fundamental life principles.
Beth has contributed over 150 hours volunteering through peer support at the weekly sessions, attending external trips, attending holiday events put on to engage new participants and representing the SOR project locally at external events such as the Great South Run.
“She has been instrumental in creating a rugby element at these weekly sessions, and the young people look up to her. Beth has faced great adversity over the past year and for the past 6 months, she has thrown herself into the coaching and has become a great role model to other young people who may be going through challenging issues themselves.”
Milly Taylor, Spirit of Rugby National Co-ordinator, RFU
Beth has been able to achieve so much for herself and for the volunteers and young people involved in this project. She has shown real dedication and commitment to her work whilst balancing her university studies and a part time job locally. The impact she has had on the young people who participate every week and the young volunteers means she has made a real difference for them. We have seen her confidence grow, her passion for the sport at a grassroots level come through and success in what the project has achieved in a short time due to her enthusiasm.
If and how has volunteering helped you in other areas, such as studying, university, gaining employment
Volunteering has helped me grow as an individual immensely, I have come out of my shell and become very confident within myself and my abilities as a coach and a volunteer. I have progressed further within my university studies because of my knowledge around the local area and how sport helps them to focus and relieves them from certain situations. I have gained so many qualifications from being a volunteer to a level 2 rugby coach with various CPD courses which I would not have gained if I didn’t volunteer. I have also secured myself a job at PITC through my volunteering, which I now help other volunteers to achieve what I accomplished.
For Beth to achieve the recognition she deserves at the local awards ceremony is a great acknowledgement of her all hard work and achievements we hope that her story can inspire other people to get involved in volunteering in the city. We want to thank her for all her dedication this past year and look forward to seeing her continue to grow and develop within PITC.
“Beth has been a true inspiration for new-comers to Rugby, without her hard work and effort on and off session the cohesion from both coaches and participants wouldn’t be as strong as it is and the project wouldn’t have been the huge success it is now.”
Iain Whiteford, Spirit of Rugby Portsmouth Project Co-ordinator
What are your future plans?
I hope to gain further qualifications within the coaching industry and volunteer for more charities and become part of an incredible team and to help the community gain a bigger field of volunteers.
Regardless of age, ability, all you need is enthusiasm, passion for working with young people and the right attitude and we would love to hear from you!